Sean Olds is a bit of an enigma to me — even though I spent three hours sitting in with him at Trio.
What I do know is that he is an excellent songwriter, a top-notch singer and because he allowed me to sit in with him for the aforementioned 3 hours, he’s a good dude.
I first heard him at Trio in 2016. I thought I’d stop in and see what the “competition” in the area, was like. (I have since realized that, unlike the dog-eat-dog scramble for recognition and gigs that is the LA Metro area, the OBX is infinitely less savage).
My first impression was: “This is a really good singer/songwriter.” Over the last couple of years I see that Sean doesn’t constrain himself. He uses who’s available and the players learn the måçaterial by doing gigs with him. All of them are more than competent and most are amongst the best that can be had on the beach. But in every situation I’ve heard him, the songs remain excellent, the vocals spot on and the guitar playing, tasty.
Q: What brought you to the Outer Banks?
A: I’m a native. Most of my family comes from lower Virginia and North Carolina.
Q: How would you describe your music?
A: I make a joke to people who ask that my music is historical funk, but I’ve been told it’s “singer-songwriter rock ‘n’ roll.” The older I get, I’m pretty sure it’s “soft rock.”
Q: Who is your greatest musical influence?
A: Ryan Adams. He’s ... great wordsmith.
Q: What is it about music that touched you?
A: My generation was raised on Disney musicals. I grew up listening to cool songs sung by monkeys and lions in cartoons. My parents listened to Phil Collins, Huey Lewis, Chicago, Peter Gabriel and classics like The Beatles, Chuck Berry and Motown and took me out to the bar to hang out and watch live music.
Q: What was the first concert you attended?
A: Janet Jackson. Had zero effect on me. It made me realize that I was a terrible dancer.
Q: How many different musical projects are you involved in?
A: Currently, one project: The Running Club.
2017… I had three different bands. Essentially, we all play in each other’s bands here on the Outer Banks. It’s a fun little pool of musical incest.
Q: What’s your favorite venue to play on the Outer Banks? To listen?
A: For chill sunsets, Roadside and Sweet T’s are tied. Duck is a magical place in the summer. Everyone seems to be happy all the time...maybe they’re stoned. For being loud and raging: Ocean Boulevard. We’ve had so many fun shows there with Donny and Heather. It’s a really intimate spot where you can reach out and touch everyone or scream at them to get the F out of the bar.
Q: What do you do in the off-season?
A: I do electrical work and travel.... and parenting. I have a nine-year-old son. We’re best friends. I have a lot more time to hang out and do domestic things with him.
Q: Was there a person in your life that motivated you to pursue music?
A: Marty McFly, (from “Back To The Future”) was definitely my inspiration to play music.
Q: If you could perform with anyone, who would it be, and why?
A: Prince man. I’d play with Prince. What a show he put on. Dude was an animal.
Q: What song have you heard that you wish you’d written?
A: I wish I had written “Wagon Wheel”. Then, I would have taken the lyrics, burned them, lit my house on fire that I wrote the song in, broken my guitar and given myself a lobotomy so the song would never be revealed to the public.
Q: If you could choose a time period in which to perform music, when?
A: The obvious answer for time periods would be the ‘60s or ‘70s, but I’m into the ‘20s, swinging around, sweet jazz, you’re always wearing a tux and you could smoke inside.
Q: Do you listen to new music and if so, what?
A: Lately, Father John Misty, War on Drugs, and Childish Gambino. Anything political these days turns me on...Gambino nails the climate associated today in America while FJM writes about all the little personal things that make people nuts.
Q: Did you ever consider quitting music?
A: I’ve said I’m quitting music every year for the last five years. It’s cutthroat, but once you realize you aren’t going to be Jesus, you can just play and say whatever. I don’t need everyone to clap and love me; I’m just going have a good time.
Q: McCartney or Lennon?
A: McCartney...I’m a sucker for a sweet melody…and he looks like a beautiful old lady now.
Q: Where were you the first time you performed?
A: First onstage experience was a party at my parent’s house. I was in 11th grade. We were bloody awful. Gotta suck to get better. Dave Grohl said something like that.
Q: Songwriting: Is it positive or negative inspiration that drives you?
A: Sometimes I write just to write and get bad songs out. Every song is personal. Some are complete ramblings...like most Dylan songs — just kidding Bob. I’m not the most positive person on the planet. I’m obsessed with reality and the crushing eternity of life and the fact that this journey is taking forever. Most of my songs are drawn out of negativity or a common truth of what I see everyday.
Q: Your favorite album?
A: Favorite Oldest Album: The Beatles’ “Revolver.” Favorite Older Album: Ryan Adams’ “Heartbreaker.” Favorite Recent Album: “Fear Fun” by Father John Misty.
Q: Your favorite song?
A: Impossible. A song that gets me going is “Easy Lover’ by Phil Collins. The guy is a damn genius and looks like he should be from Mordor.
Q: Where can you be heard this season?
A: The Running Club’s schedule’s on my Facebook page: Sean Olds Music. Or through your local periodical. Also, follow me on Instagram; fattiedaddy.
Q: If you were me, what question should I be asking you?
A: I’d ask me “do you make your own jorts, because they look fabulous.”